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Sheets shows he can stick, gives Sox win with walk-off homer

/ by Vinnie Duber
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
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When Gavin Sheets arrived on the South Side ahead of his major league debut, he made no bones about his goals.

"Safe to say I want to stick, yeah."

Monday night, he showed exactly why he might do just that.

RELATED: Robert, Eloy will be Sox biggest midsummer additions

The rookie, playing in just his 15th big league game, blasted a walk-off home run to prevent the Chicago White Sox from getting swept in a doubleheader by the division-rival Minnesota Twins.

"Well," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said in regards to Sheets sticking with the big league club, "it's obvious he'll be here tomorrow."

Sheets has, in a small sample size, presented the idea that he could be part of the mix for the White Sox the rest of the way as they try to chase down a World Series championship.

The big offensive boost that once looked so necessary from general manager Rick Hahn's trade deadline activity, because of the ridiculous amount of significant injuries the team has dealt with this season, now looks like less of a priority. Sheets and Jake Burger have come up and mashed in their first tastes of the majors, and other role players have combined to make for a reliable reserve unit.

That unit has been more than reserve in the first three and a half months of the season. But with Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert on their way back from their injury recoveries, it seems the White Sox could be pumping some truth into the idea that they have too many good players.

 

Maybe that means Sheets and Burger could be part of a trade-deadline audition, showing off what other teams could be getting should they send their trade chips to the South Side. Or maybe the White Sox — who established themselves as World Series contenders even without their injured stars — can fold them into their own calculus ahead of a pennant race.

After all, even when Jiménez and Robert return, there will still need to be someone to man right field, and maybe Sheets can be a bigger part of that solution than anyone dreamed a few months ago.

"I'm just trying to help the guys every day, not trying to think too much about staying. That's my goal," Sheets said. "I want to be here. I want to be a part of this run. This is awesome. This is the place to be right now.

"I try to think day to day and how to help this team win. If I continue to do that, just think about the day at hand, I'll have more success and continue and enjoy the ride right now."

Make no mistake, there will still be moves for Hahn to make. Sheets slugging his way to a .966 OPS in his first few weeks in the majors doesn't wipe away his general manager's to-do list. Sheets can't play second base or pitch out of the bullpen.

But a bat like that — and Burger's, too, for that matter — can indeed make Hahn's life easier.

You can never have too many good players, Hahn is frequent to remind. The White Sox, ready to make the two biggest midsummer additions possible by welcoming back Jiménez and Robert, are about to find that out.

It might mean Sheets sticking, just like he wanted. More homers like the one Monday night, and it's safe to say that he could be a sizable part of the big things the White Sox have cooking this year.

"It's just the attitude we have that we are going to do it together," Sheets said. "This whole team faced so much adversity this year, and I think come September and October, no one is going to be more prepared for it than us. Just the way we rallied around each other, that’s what's so great around here.

"You bring guys up like myself and Jake and throw us into the fire right away, but everybody makes us feel like home. That's why we can have success. Guys make us feel at home and give us confidence. That's why we are in first place and continue to take the punches and have games like this."

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